Barkley L. Hendricks, “Woody” (1973), oil and acrylic on canvas, 66 x 84 inches (© Barkley L. Hendricks; image courtesy the Estate of Barkley L. Hendricks and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York)

Art, we know, allows us to envision a reality other than our own — to transport us elsewhere, if only for a moment — and the exhibitions in our October roundup offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of the fall season in New York City. Barkley Hendricks’s gold leaf-laced portraits, Cecilia Paredes’s trompe l’oeil photographs, and a tribute to Bay Area artists Leo Valledor and Carlos Villa are just a few of the shows to put on your must-see list this month.

Installation view of Dahlia Elsayed, Real Feel, at Morgan Lehman (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Dahlia El Sayed: Real Feel and Austin Thomas: City Scape

I’ve known and been following the work of Dahlia El Sayed and Austin Thomas for decades and find each of their abstract styles visually invigorating. I wanted to highlight this small show because the pairing of the two artists is inspired and helps you see some parallels in their art but also leaves you feeling excited by the formalist ideas they are working through. El Sayed’s work is icon-like in its austerity and power, while Thomas uses shape like a toolbox of possibilities. Go and bathe in the beauty. —Hrag Vartanian

Morgan Lehman Gallery (
526 West 26th Street, Suite 410, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through October 7

Detail of Marin Majić, “Midnight Spoils” (2023) (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Marin Majić: Nocturne

These dreamy paintings made with oil paint, colored pencils, and marble dust on linen are bursting with magical qualities. A strong sense of light dominates each work, and you’re left wondering what is happening in this visual version of magical realism. My only complaint is that the details and moody qualities of the paintings are lost in this well-lit gallery. Each work feels like an ephemeral universe flickering before our eyes. —HV

Nino Mier Gallery (
380 Broadway, Tribeca, Manhattan
Through October 21

May Stevens, “A Life” (1984), acrylic on canvas, 78 x 120 inches (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Can You See Me Now? Painting the Aging Body

Curated by Clarity Haynes and Jeffrey Lee, this exhibition focuses on the aging female body, bringing together strong work by Brendan Goodman, Joan Semmel, Haynes, Angela Dufresne, Mala Iqbal, and others. A large painting by May Stevens about her aging mother, “A Life” (1984), is at the heart of this show, which invites us to consider how older women are portrayed in art. It’s a perfect complement to Bailey Doogan, Samantha Nye, Emma Amos, and Haynes’s own work (in addition to others) and you’ll leave wondering why it has taken so long for such an exhibition to be presented. Let’s hope a museum takes notice of this important and underrepresented topic in art. —HV

Ryan Lee Gallery (
515 West 26th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through October 21

Left: Zach Bruder, “Where You Please” (2023), acrylic and Flashe on linen, 72 x 60 inches; right: Zach Bruder, “Ascent” (2023), acrylic and Flashe on linen, 72 x 60 inches (photo Valentina Di Liscia/Hyperallergic)

Zach Bruder: Clear Arrears

Whether Zach Bruder paints delicate porcelain teacups and saucers floating in a salmon-pink haze or a rabbit hopping over a fence in a moonlit backyard littered with smiley-face stars … okay, you get the idea: His works are weird, delightfully so. This exhibition features large-scale paintings rendered in Bruder’s go-to materials, acrylic and Flashe, which he applies in layers to achieve varying degrees of opacity and fluidity that lend the compositions an unusual quality. Some of the motifs he explores here are drawn from observations and recollections of his upbringing in Cleveland, their meanings scrambled and reconfigured according to the logic of the 17th-century Orbis Pictus, one of the earliest examples of an illustrated children’s textbook. It’s a giddy trip down memory lane spiked with a shot of Americana, but make it spooky. —Valentina Di Liscia

Magenta Plains (
149 Canal Street, Chinatown, Manhattan
Through October 22

Installation view of Roberto Lugo, “Roundel with Boy from the Hood” from the Della Robske series (2023), glazed stoneware, birch, and laquer, 5 inches wide, 36 inches in diameter (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Roberto Lugo: The Gilded Ghetto

Roberto Lugo’s ceramic work blends historical European art history with contemporary American life effortlessly, creating visually playful objects that solicit a smile but also awe you with their technical prowess. He has recreated Whistler’s famous Peacock Room using pigeons, calling it “The Pigeon Crib.” And then in the back he has a whole series of black and red pottery that is infused with contemporary scenes from city life. The true tour de force is his large Della Robske series, riffing off Renaissance sculptor Luca Della Robbia’s polychrome ceramic roundels. These are instant stunners. A highly recommended exhibition. —HV

R & Company (
64 White Street, Tribeca, Manhattan
Through October 27

Gabriel Chaile, “Aguas calientes (La Comunidad)” (2019), welding and engraving on aluminum pots from soup kitchens (Los Pibes, Nuestro Hogar, and La Asamblea), Estrellita B. Brodsky Collection; “Aguas Calientes (Hot Water)” (2019), welding and engraving on aluminum pot and ladle (courtesy of the artist and Barro New York)

Dadas las Circunstancias

The tension between material and subject, and the question of whether the two are ever in harmony, are quandaries as old as art history. Dadas las Circunstancias, Spanish for “given the circumstances,” features 11 artists who seek to preserve the memory of a place, narrative, or experience, testing the limits of their chosen medium to evoke and index. Highlights include Gabriel Chaile’s pareidolic sculptures of welded and engraved aluminum pots, which reference soup kitchens in Argentina, and Livia Corona Benjamin’s photographs memorializing abandoned grain silos in rural Mexico. —VD

The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center (
107 Suffolk Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Through October 28

Cecilia Paredes, “Tapisserie” (2023), photo performance inkjet print, 52 x 32 inches (photo by Daniel Terna)

Cecilia Paredes: Walking In My Galaxy Blue

Cecilia Paredes refers to her works as “photo performances,” an apt term for the way in which she does not just create photographs but rather becomes them. The Peruvian-born, Philadelphia-based artist paints her skin and clothing to camouflage her body against intricate fabrics printed with floral and foliage patterns. In the most striking compositions, like “Tapisserie” (2023), Paredes plays with alternately concealing and revealing elements of the picture such that the contours of her figure appear three dimensional and sculptural. The images are as illusive and attractive as the eyes of a butterfly. —VD

Ruiz-Healy Art (
74 East 79th Street, 2D, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Through November 3

Leo Valledor, “Between Heaven and Earth” (1973), acrylic on canvas, 120 x 120 inches (photo Hakim Bishara/Hyperallergic)

Remains of Surface: Carlos Villa & Leo Valledor

Most of you will probably not recognize the names of Leo Valledor and Carlos Villa, two late Filipino-American artists who never received due recognition in this country. That’s what this show aims to remedy, bringing the works of these two pioneering Bay Area artists together for the first time. On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much of a connection between the works: Villa’s ritualistic body- and face-prints, some speckled with crocheted chicken bones, are fundamentally different in mood, discipline, and style from Valledor’s 1960s geometric abstractions. That is until you learn about the incredible intersections between the lives of the two artists, who grew up together in San Francisco during the 1940s and ’50s, studied art together, taught briefly together at the now-defunct San Francisco Art Institute, called each other “cousin” though they weren’t blood-related, and even married the same woman. The story of their lifelong friendship is itself a good enough reason to put them together in one show. But this exhibition also has a larger story to tell about a community still struggling to find its place in the American art world. (Read more about the show in John Yau’s review.) —Hakim Bishara

Silverlens Galleries (
504 West 24th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through November 4

Barkley L. Hendricks, “Lawdy Mama” (1969), oil and gold leaf on canvas, 53 3/4 x 36 1/4 inches (© Barkley L. Hendricks; image courtesy the Estate of Barkley L. Hendricks and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York)

Barkley L. Hendricks: Portraits at the Frick

One of the amazing parts of this small but powerful exhibition is its location at Barkley Hendricks’s favorite New York City museum, The Frick, and you can see why. Hendricks’s portraits are infused with art history of all types, often citing specific works by Moroni or Titian that art nerds (count me among them) can’t get enough of. One of the main draws of this exhibition is the room of “white” portraits, or images of Black Americans dressed all in white, which includes a beautiful 1977 self-portrait simply titled “Slick.” The museum has also curated a small collection of James McNeill Whistler portraits in an adjacent room so that it’s easy to understand how status, material culture, and time periods influence how we see not only ourselves but others, too. —HV

Frick Madison (
945 Madison Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Through January 7, 2024

Installation view of Henry Taylor, “Untitled” (2022) (photo Hakim Bishara/Hyperallergic)

Henry Taylor: B Side

This large show of artist Henry Taylor is worth a visit. Included among his large gestural portraits and figural work, for which he’s best known, are objects that reveal his wry humor and comedic sensibilities. One typewriter case is covered with big white letters that read, “I Try To be WRite aint TRY’n to be WHITE.” Another untitled 2022 work is a large tree-like object that replaces leaves with a wooly black material that evokes many corporeal and vegetal associations. One of the focal points of this retrospective is a large Black Panther installation — his brother was associated with the group, and there’s an untitled portrait of him elsewhere in the show — which includes images of Black Americans killed by police in the last few years, including Tamir Rice and Breonna Taylor. It’s a complex arrangement with a lot of commentary on the role of coalition building, identity, and American empire. I’m emphasizing the sculptural work because I think most people will come knowing his paintings but may be pleasantly surprised at the breadth of his vision beyond the canvas. —HV

Whitney Museum of American Art (
99 Gansevoort Street, Meatpacking District, Manhattan
October 4–January 28, 2024

More Recommendations From Our Fall 2023 New York Art Guide:

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

Valentina Di Liscia is the News Editor at Hyperallergic. Originally from Argentina, she studied at the University of Chicago and is currently working on her MA at Hunter College, where she received the...

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant and he holds an MFA in Art Writing from the School of Visual...

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